Suzie’s “REAL” IEP
Tomorrow at 2:00 pm we have Suzie’s IEP. That is her Individualized Education Plan. It is what schools have to put together for kids who receive "services." In looking at her new IEP, it is pretty clear that Suzie receives lots of "services."
But as The Beautiful Bride and I talked through the recommendation from "Suzie’s team" for next year, it also became apparent that the amount of time she spends in "general ed," (the "regular" classroom) continues to decline. Next year, it looks like the amount of time she’ll spend with her 5th grade classmates is essentially lunch, recess, and "specials…art, music, PE, etc…
This is what we have come to.
In essence, Suzie is a special ed student who eats lunch at the same time as the other kids, go to "specials" at the same time as other kids, and is on the playground at the same time as the other kids. But that’s about all.
Hear me out…I am not mad or looking for a lawsuit or anything. We agree with the IEP. We love the people who love our daughter enough to work, many for very little money, and help her be successful at school. I am not fussing about the IEP, or any of the decisions or recommendations. We have watched the decline in the amount of time she spends with the typical kids over the last few years so I guess that it is just the blazing reality that comes in seeing the IEP form that makes it abundantly clear how the work in the "regular" classroom has become, well, irregular to her…a bit painful.
I am proud of my daughter. There is no one in the school who works harder than she does at their homework, or at learning new skills, or at being good at just being themselves.
But the reality of seeing just how different she is, all summed on a piece of paper is just sometimes unnerving.
And so we look to tomorrow, to the IEP which reminds us of the obvious, that Suzie is different. Not better, not worse, just different.
But that is not news. We see it every day. There is nothing we will discuss tomorrow that will take us by surprise. After all, we have raised Suzie for the past 11 years. We know the challenges involved in her life. I heard her singing it just tonight as she got ready for bed. My 11-year-old daughter was singing along with a Barney video…."You are special, you’re the only one, you’re the only one…."
Suzie is not defined by her IEP, or by her IQ scores, or by the number of seizures she has had this week. She is not defined by the fact that she still likes Barney videos, or has her birthday party at Chuckie Cheese, or rides a big purple bike with three wheels.
She is only defined by this;
"…You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit; how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared, before I’d even lived on day."
Psalm 139 – The Message
That is Suzie’s REAL IEP – all that we will do tomorrow is just details.